Let’s go to your “wayback machine” and place yourself in kindergarten. This was a time in your life when you were less encumbered from making judgements about others, and were more accepting of the people you interacted with. How refreshing, especially if you consider the positive side and potential of everyone you interact with being your friend.
If you think about when you began to become discerning about who you were interacting with, and why, there are likely a few key interactions in your life which shaped your decisions. Unfortunately, some of them negatively influenced your ability to have an open mind. This is especially apparent when it comes to being aware and open to seeing the benefit of interacting with everyone on a neutral basis.
Right, wrong or indifferent, we are all judged on a regular basis by others, and by our own accounts on a daily basis. How we handle these judgements, and whether we let them impact us or others around us, is what separates us from having better and more fulfilling life experiences. Why? Because when we are always judging other people, we typically are not taking in all of the information to fairly do so. More importantly, no one is entitled to be judging others, but people do this all the time.
When people are judging other people, they are in essence defining the social barriers or opportunities that will be available to them. The more people judge others, and in a negative capacity, the fewer chances they will have to positively benefit from the extraordinary talents, insights and experiences from that person.
Not being judgmental requires us to be many things. One of them is open-minded. It’s easy to say you are an open-minded individual, but in reality, it is much harder to be one. In fact, for starters, if you don’t like to ask others questions, and truly listen to what they have to say, chances are you are not an open-minded person. Why? Because with limited information about someone, it is far easier to be judgmental about them.
Consider one of your recent encounters with someone you randomly met. Perhaps you were introduced to another person in a neutral setting. In this situation, neither of you knew much about the other person. This is a great time to test your ability to be open-minded, and to see what level of judgement you are casting on the new person. Or, to be able to gauge what your level of neutrality you are offering towards the person you are meeting.
In work environments, chances are you will be slightly less judgmental of people. This is due to the fact they have been vetted in some way to be associated with your company. However, when you meet them, you will likely put them through your own method of judging them, with the intent of quickly determining your future interaction levels with them. Even if you are going to be colleagues and will be required to work closely together, your initial judgement of someone will impact how well you will work together.
What if this initial meeting of a new colleague played out differently? What if you were open-minded to learning more about them, and took the time to understand who they are, what talents they have, and how to best interact with them? Would this set both of you up to have a far better working experience? Of course, it would. However, most people don’t set themselves up to initially experience this type of interaction success. Why? Because they are accustomed to being marginally judgmental based on years of being unaware of their actions.
If you are with me on supporting the philosophy that being open-minded, or at least striving to become more so, is something you want to be, below are some questions and factors to consider. They are intended to help you to learn and perhaps achieve becoming less or non-judgmental at some point.
- Have you ever discussed how you became closed minded when it comes to interacting with new or current people you have in your life?
- What are the factors causing you to be judgmental?
- How aware are you on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest) of being judgmental?
- Has being judgmental actually benefitted you professionally?
- Think of a time when being judgmental backfired?
- Are you willing to consider being less judgmental?
- When you are judging others, are you doing so out of insecurity?
- Think about a time you were open-minded and the results of the interaction?
- If there was a way to become less or completely non-judgmental, would you want to be this way?
- Think of someone you admire. Is one of their qualities being non-judgmental?
- Do you think you have the capacity to be non-judgmental?
When you are able to interact with people in a non-judgmental way, consider yourself as being fortunate. Ultimately this is something as humans we owe to both ourselves and to others to strive to achieve being more accepting of other people. We may not achieve this, or all have this as a goal. However, I firmly believe our world would certainly be a much better place to live in, if we were even slightly all more open-minded towards others.
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coach, author of Wisdom Whisperer and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019), and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.
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